This post is in response to questions that are being asked by providers around Maine in regards to the Coronavirus. We have gathered resources from a variety of respected organizations that have access to professionals, specialists and research around health and safety. All information shared on this site is done so to allow providers to make informed decisions that are right for their individual programs.
You can access all the gathered resources through the website menu under “COVID-19”. You will find a drop down list that includes a variety of informational resources that support your efforts to maintain a healthy environment and provide families with appropriate information on infectious diseases.
Seasonal influenza is a serious respiratory illness that we recognize as requiring specific management to keep children healthy. A pandemic flu is one where the population lacks immunity and it spreads rapidly across the globe because of this. Our established seasonal flu management and preparation can minimize the effects of a flu pandemic. It is important to understand that Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) is just such a novel virus. We should already have measures in place that address how we, in general, will handle this type of respiratory illness within our program.
As with other respiratory illnesses, certain populations of children may be at increased risk of severe infection, such as children with underlying health conditions. At this time there is no evidence that children are more susceptible to COVID-19.
With any illness that reaches pandemic status, we will need to specifically act on additional actions that child care programs are directed to follow. At this time we do not know the if, when or what of these additional actions which is why it is important for providers to be informed about the agencies which will have the primarily responsibility on the federal/state/local level for activating additional actions.
Center for Disease Control (CDC) – currently (3/6/2020) the potential public health threat posed by COVID-19 is high, both globally and to the United States, but individual risk is dependent on exposure.
Let’s look at what you can do right now:
- Within your program, you/staff and children should engage in usual preventive actions to avoid infection, including cleaning hands often using soap and water or alcohol-based (60% minimum) hand sanitizer.
- Practice the best way to catch coughs and sneezes
- Review your policy around illnesses and reshare with families. If needed, update to include respiratory illnesses and not just fever.
- Update all contact information for families
- Step up your daily health checks.
- Review cleaning practices to be sure are meeting the recommended sanitizing and disinfecting requirements
- Share information you receive from reliable sources with families
- Include a pandemic illness response plan as part of your Emergency Preparedness Plans
Symptoms are similar to the seasonal flu and can include:
Infectious Disease Outbreak Control
During the course of an identified outbreak of any reportable illness at the facility, a child or staff member should be excluded if it is suspected that the child or staff member is contributing to transmission of the illness at the program, is not adequately immunized when there is an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease, or the circulating pathogen poses an increased risk to the individual. The child or staff member should be readmitted when the primary provider who made the initial determination to exclude decides that the risk of transmission is no longer present.
Families and staff should be notified if two or more unrelated persons affiliated with the facility are infected with a vaccine-preventable or infectious disease. Your program will need to notify all families and staff who have come in contact with the child or children. This notification should include:
- The names, both the common and the medical name, of the diagnosed disease to which the child was exposed, whether there is one case or an outbreak, and the nature of the exposure (such as a child or staff member in a shared room or facility)
- Signs and symptoms of the disease for which the parent/guardian should observe
- Mode of transmission of the disease
- Period of communicability and how long to watch for signs and symptoms of the disease
- Disease-prevention measures recommended by the health department (if appropriate)
- Control measures implemented at the facility
The notice should not identify the child or staff who has the infectious disease.
There are certain illnesses that are considered “reportable illnesses.” Your program will need to follow health guidelines to notify families and staff about the occurrence of these types of illnesses.
Planning for Seasonal and Pandemic Influenza
- Develop a plan for keeping children who become ill at the child care facility away from other children until the family arrives, such as a fixed place for holding children who are ill in an area of their usual caregiving room or in a separate room where interactions with unexposed children and staff will be limited
- Establish and enforce guidelines for excluding children with infectious diseases from attending the child care facility
- Maintain adequate supplies of items to control the spread of infection
- Maintain accurate records when children or staff are ill with details regarding their symptoms and/or the kind of illness (especially when influenza was verified through testing)
- Practice daily health checks of children and adults each day for illness
- Determine guidelines to support staff members to remain home if they think they might be ill and a mechanism to provide paid sick leave so they can stay home until completely well without losing wages.
Review emergency contact numbers with families regularly.
If you are not able to find the information you are needing from this post and all the resource links under the “Resources” drop down list in the website’s top menu, please contact us at: email@example.com. FCCAM continues to update the resources on the website doing our best to meet the needs of providers throughout Maine.